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Each Radioactive Material (RAM) authorized user is responsible for ensuring that all radioactive materials are disposed of properly. All radioactive waste must be segregated and documented properly for pick up and disposal by EH&S.

Log Usage

Document your isotope usage and update your waste container contents in EHSA as soon as you start an experiment. View How to Log Radioactive Isotope Usage and Disposal (pptx) for detailed instructions on how to log into EHSA, record usage, and add to a waste container for disposal.

Segregate for Disposal

All radioactive materials not administered to a patient must be segregated in the laboratory. Contact Radiation Safety to have radioactive waste containers delivered to you at no charge.

One container, one isotope

This is the general rule for segregating radioactive waste. Do not mix radioisotopes.

Radioactive waste must first be segregated by the type of material, and then by half-life. Please see the table below to learn how.

Radioisotopes with Very Short Half-Lives

If you are working with very short half-life isotopes (F-18, Cu-64, Zr-89, O-15, etc.), the waste can decay in storage. Please contact Radiation Safety to be trained on the special documentation requirements for this process. Please note that waste logs will be audited during inspections.

Segregation Guide

CategoryContainerWaste Description
Dry SolidMetal Drum, Wooden BoxGlass tubes, paper, rubber, empty stock vials, glassware, Waste from cages where animals containing radionuclides are housed
Aqueous or Organic Liquid1-gal plastic bottle or 5 –gal plastic drumFree-standing liquid
Liquid scintillation VialsPlastic or metal drumVials containing liquid scintillation cocktail
SharpsSharps containerNeedles, Pasteur pipettes, razors and other sharp objects
Wastes containing biological, pathogenic or infectious material or equipmentFrozen samples in refrigeratorUrine, blood, and blood cells segregated and frozen
Animal carcasses/tissueFrozen carcasses in refrigeratorFrozen animal carcasses or frozen tissues from animals which were fed, injected or infused with RAM
Lead Pigs Lead pigs and other lead containers should be segregated from other regular radioactive waste

View the Radioactive Waste Disposal Fact Sheet (pdf) for detailed information on container types and contents.


Label and Document for Pick Up

All documentation for the waste prepared for disposal is completed in EHS Assistant (EHSA), USC’s web-based permit tracking system. Waste forms are generated using the information you entered, making it easy to print a copy and attach it to waste containers.

Please note that improperly segregated radioactive waste and/or incomplete/invalid documentation will not be accepted for disposal.